William Hazlitt, born in England on April 10, , had a diverse and storied career in the arts: he was an essayist, a philosopher, an art critic, a literary critic, a drama critic, a cultural critic, and—just to even things out—a painter. Despite their age, his essays remain surprisingly readable. Hazlitt also chose his acquaintances wisely, at least insofar as many of them wound up ascending into the canon: Wordsworth, Stendhal, Charles and Mary Lamb. His landlord was Jeremy Bentham.
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William Hazlitt, born in England on April 10, , had a diverse and storied career in the arts: he was an essayist, a philosopher, an art critic, a literary critic, a drama critic, a cultural critic, and—just to even things out—a painter.
Despite their age, his essays remain surprisingly readable. Hazlitt also chose his acquaintances wisely, at least insofar as many of them wound up ascending into the canon: Wordsworth, Stendhal, Charles and Mary Lamb. His landlord was Jeremy Bentham. But then there was Coleridge, ah, Coleridge! I was at that time dumb, inarticulate, helpless, like a worm by the way-side, crushed, bleeding, lifeless … that my understanding also did not remain dumb and brutish, or at length found a language to express itself, I owe to Coleridge … I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the music of the spheres.
I was called down into the room where he was, and went half-hoping, half-afraid. He received me very graciously, and I listened for a long time without uttering a word. I did not suffer in his opinion by my silence. At a distance, and in the dim light of the chapel, there was to me a strange wildness in his aspect, a dusky obscurity, and I thought him pitted with the smallpox.
His complexion was at that time clear, and even bright … His forehead was broad and high, light as if built of ivory, with large projecting eyebrows, and his eyes rolling beneath them, like a sea with darkened lustre. His mouth was gross, voluptuous, open, eloquent; his chin good-humoured and round; but his nose, the rudder of the face, the index of the will, was small, feeble, nothing-like what he has done … His hair now, alas!
This long pendulous hair is peculiar to enthusiasts, to those whose minds tend heavenward; and is traditionally inseparable though of a different colour from the pictures of Christ. It ought to belong, as a character, to all who preach Christ crucified , and Coleridge was at that time one of those!
I ventured to say that I had always entertained a great opinion of Burke, and that as far as I could find the speaking of him with contempt might be made the test of a vulgar democratical mind. This was the first observation I ever made to Coleridge, and he said it was a very just and striking one. I remember the leg of Welsh mutton and the turnips on the table that day had the finest flavour imaginable …. The next morning Mr. Coleridge was to return to Shrewsbury … Asking for a pen and ink, and going to a table to write something on a bit of card, [he] advanced towards me with undulating step, and giving me the precious document, said that that was his address, Mr.
I was not less surprised than the shepherd-boy this simile is to be found in Cassandra , when he sees a thunderbolt fall close at his feet. I stammered out my acknowledgments and acceptance of this offer I thought Mr. It was a fine morning in the middle of winter, and he talked the whole way.
My First Acquaintance with Poets
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A Critical Study on Hazlitt’s My First Acquaintance with Poets
My father was a Dissenting Minister, at Wem, in Shropshire; and in the year the figures that compose the date are to me like the "dreaded name of Demogorgon". He did not come till late on the Saturday afternoon before he was to preach; and Mr Rowe, who himself went down to the coach, in a state of anxiety and expectation, to look for the arrival of his successor, could find no one at all answering the description but a round-faced man, in a short black coat like a shooting-jacket which hardly seemed to have been made for him, but who seemed to be talking at a great rate to his fellow-passengers. Mr Rowe had scarce returned to give an account of his disappointment when the round-faced man in black entered, and dissipated all doubts on the subject by beginning to talk. He did not cease while he stayed; nor has he since, that I know of. He held the good town of Shewsbury in delightful suspense for three weeks that he remained there, "fluttering the proud Salopians, like an eagle in a dove-cote"; and the Welsh mountains that skirt the horizon with their tempestuous confusion, agree to have heard no such mystic sound since the days of. As we passed along between Wem and Shrewbury, and I eyed their blue tops seen through the wintry branches, or the red rustling leaves of the sturdy oak-trees by the road-side, a sound was in my ears as of a Siren's song; I was stunned, startled with it, as from deep sleep; but I had no notion then that I should ever be able to express my admiration to others in motley imagery or quaint allusion, till the light of his genius shone into my soul, like the sun's rays glittering in the puddles of the road. I was at that time dumb, inarticulate, helpless, like a worm by the way-side, crushed, bleeding lifeless; but now, bursting from the deadly bands that "bound them,.
MY FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH POETS – HAZLITT